Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update 23

occupied Palestinian territory, issued 19 April 2020 (epidemiological wk 8)

Information for period: 5 March -19 April 2020

Highlights
  • 313 COVID-19 cases now confirmed in the West Bank and 13 in Gaza
  • No cases reported in Gaza since 6 April 2020
  • 111 cases and one death have been confirmed in East Jerusalem (see feature section)
  • WHO released public health guidance for social and religious practices and gatherings during Ramadan in Arabic and English (see feature section)
  • Health cluster meeting dedicated to COVID-19 response occurred on 15 April 2020

The designated hospitals for COVID-19 management in East Jerusalem are St. Joseph Hospital (pictured left) and Al-Makassed Islamic Charity Hospital. Feature section below.

WHO Preparedness, readiness and response

WHO is continuing to work with partners to support Ministry of Health’s (MoH) efforts to respond to the COVID-19 situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt).

Coordination

  • The Minister of Health Dr. Mai AlKaila and WHO co-chaired a meeting of the Health Cluster on 15 April 2020 dedicated to the COVID-19 response priorities, needs and gaps as well as the critical role that national NGOs play in the response
  • WHO provided a briefing to 20 diplomats and other partners on 16 April 2020 on barriers to maintaining access to essential health services in the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt)  during the COVID-19 response.

Surveillance

  • The total number of cases in all oPt is 313, including 300 cases in the West Bank and 13 in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, most cases are from Jerusalem Governorate (123), followed by Ramallah (68), Bethlehem (57) and Hebron (34). In the Gaza Strip, all are from Gaza City
  • No new cases were reported in Gaza for the same period
  • To-date, the Ministry of Health (MoH) reported a total of 69 cases have recovered and two people have died: case fatality rate (CFR) is 0.64%
  • About 70% of all confirmed cases are male (213 cases) and about 78% of all cases (247 cases) are below the age of 50 years.
Laboratory diagnostics
  • A total of 21,162 samples have been processed in the oPt according to the MoH
  • In the West Bank, the MoH opened two testing sites: one in Jenin and one in Hebron. This is in addition to the existing testing sites in Ramallah (Central Public Health Laboratory), Bethlehem (Caritas Hospital) and Nablus (Al-Najaf University)
  • There is currently a worldwide shortage of laboratory supplies for COVID-19 testing, so the WHO team is working hard to ensure more are provided
  • In the Gaza Strip, health authorities are continuing to appeal for support to procure additional lab testing kits. A total of 2,772 samples have been tested, including some outside of Gaza
  • WHO has procured additional test kits, to be delivered from abroad and to be distributed to supply the Gaza Strip and the West Bank upon arrival.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Isolation and Case Management and Operations support and logistics

  • In the West Bank, the local authorities established 16 quarantine centres to receive incoming travelers, including workers from Israel, arriving to the West Bank. Additional community-based quarantine centres are in the process of being established in Palestinian refugee camps across the West Bank
  • In the Gaza Strip, nine people have recovered from COVID-19 and moved to quarantine facilities at Rafah crossing, while four confirmed cases remain in isolation at Rafah crossing field hospital
  • More than 2,021 people are in one of the 24 designated quarantine facilities which include primary health facilities, schools or hotels. The number of people in quarantine has trebled because Rafah border re-opened for four days from 13-16 April to allow people in Egypt to return home to Gaza. All arrivals are quarantined in a designated quarantine facilities for 21 days
  • Despite a lack of recently confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Gaza Strip, WHO is encouraging people in Gaza to maintain the recommended measures to keep families safe from COVID-19 and to prevent its spread including physical distancing and personal hygiene measures
  • WHO and UNICEF continue to scale up procurement efforts to mobilize life-saving essential Intensive Care Unit and ventilator equipment through global supply mechanisms.
East Jerusalem
  • As of 19 April 2020 (12:00), the PA Ministry of Health reported 111 COVID-19 cases in East Jerusalem including an estimate of 49 in Silwan and the others distributed in the Palestinian neighbourhoods including Beit Hanina,  Kafr Aqab, and Beit Safa and one death of an elderly patient from Issawiya neighborhood who was treated at a hospital in Shaare Zedek hospital in West Jerusalem
  • Currently COVID-19 patients from East Jerusalem are being managed by the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN) and Israeli Hospitals
  • The designated hospitals for COVID-19 management in East Jerusalem are Al-Makassed Islamic Charity Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital, the latter has three COVID-19 patients and the other two are treated in Hadassah Hospital. One nurse from Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) is being observed and followed up at their new coronavirus dedicated ward which operates in a backup capacity. Five staff from south Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem who were in contact with the patients were also infected with the virus and the MOH is tracing their contacts
  • While the network opened coronavirus isolated wards to receive patients, the hospitals are still in need for support in medical supplies and equipment (such as Personal Protective Equipment) to be fully prepared to receive COVID-19 patients
  • A number of donors have already expressed interest and pledged donations to support EJHN, however, the need still exists
  • Six testing centres were opened in East Jerusalem by Israeli health authorities
  • In supporting the response to the COVID-19 crisis, WHO is coordinating with the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network (EJHN) to address the health needs of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, focusing on provision of technical guidance, risk communication and community engagement to disseminate public health advice for prevention of COVID-19 and advocacy with donors to fund the priority needs
Risk Communications and Community Engagement 

The COVID-19 Risk Communications and Community Engagement (RCCE) Campaign, led by WHO, UNICEF and UNRWA with the MOH and supported by a private taskforce (with Bank of Palestine and PICA), is in its fifth week and has supported the delivery of targeted messages across the oPt:

  • via 18 social media cards and two videos on multiple social media channels with: advice on how to home quarantine, general health advice (mask wearing and dos and don’ts for COVID-19 safety, advice for pregnant women and lactating mothers), advice for Gender Based Violence, as well as mythbusters
  • via 10 radio stations four times a day; in addition to disseminating messages via billboards and on Palestinian TV
  • via mobile phone networks. The RCCE began a month-long agreement with Jawaal network to deliver  3 million text messages for 1.5 million people
  • via dissemination of more than 150,000 copies of two brochures on in-home quarantine and personal hygiene measures to support Palestinian workers returning from Israel. These are being distributed by Ministry of Health to government ministries, local authorities, NGOs and partners among others, as well as by UNRWA in Gaza

In addition, the Campaign supported “Hack the Crisis Palestine” the first all-virtual hackathon in Palestine from 15-18 April to fight COVID-19 and generate solutions for health providers, patients, as well as communities in need run by Gaza Sky Geeks.

COVID-19 dashboard by WHO for oPt

WHO launched a dashboard to provide daily information on the COVID-19 outbreak in occupied Palestinian Territory, including confirmed and recovered cases, deaths and geographical locations of cases. Click on the image to take a look.
WHO oPt Dashboard